Many posts I’ve read online question Garmin’s motive for launching opencaching.com.  A recurring theme is “why do we need another listing site”.   From what I can tell this isn’t so much about what a cacher may need, it’s about about what Garmin needs.    As $4 billion dollar company Garmin needs to protect it’s market share.

Here is one stat to take note of:

  • Automotive/Mobile segment revenue decreased 19% to $2.1 billion (source)

The automotive market is saturated and cars are now coming with GPS built in. Outdoor is the growth market. Garmin is trying to protect that market. They aren’t trying to kill Groundspeak, even though it feels that way, they are trying to protect their market. A 19% decline in automotive something like a $400 million dollar loss. Building the site for Garmin (guesstimate – 8 people X $100k/year + $200k infrastructure = $1 million per year) is a cheap marketing proposition to protect it’s growth market.

On the other hand:

  • Outdoor/Fitness segment revenue increased 10% to $469 million (source)

Based on last year’s numbers Outdoor accounted for 16% of Garmin’s sales.

YTD through Q3: Outdoor/Fitness segment revenue increased 22% to $389 million (source)

Geocache placements increased 25% in the last 9 months.  This is an indication that Geocaching continues to grow exponentially.  It is no wonder that Garmin is looking for ways to make up the shortfall in the automotive sector.  The gain in Outdoor/Fitness is still smaller than the loss in Automotive but it represents a growth area.

Garmin devices make up such a large part of the market that Groundspeak would have a hard time employing device integration (or de-integration as the case may be) in the same way that Garmin has. For instance it would not be in Groundspeak’s best interest to make Garmin users download a GPX file as Garmin has done for other manufacturers on oc.com.

With the number of iPhones out there what is to say that Apple won’t create a iGeocache? I don’t think the will but they could.

The reality is that focusing on the deficiencies of another site is pointless. That site and other sites will continue to exist. More will be launched. From where I sit, Groundspeak needs to innovate to keep its user base. Give geocachers something that a manufacturer can’t – interoperability. Every manufacturer on the planet is going to try and build a better mouse trap. Let them. Just make sure that the easiest, fastest, most friendly place to get the info is geocaching.com.

Instead of denying that geocachers have a stats addiction Groundspeak should embrace it. Enhance the user profile. All Groundspeak needs to do is a little audit of how users have customized their own profiles to find what they like. Right now no other site on the planet can give the user a better stat profile than Groundspeak. This is ground that Groundspeak cannot afford to give up.

The folks running Groundspeak are not stupid. What I’ve said here is not a surprise to them. I’m sure we’ll see announcements in this area in the future, hopefully the near future.

teamvoyagr

I have been writing the cachemania blog since 2008. I'm interested in the development of geocaching and the many ways that people play the game.

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